Lexington E911 low on emergency dispatchers, now hiring

Lexington E911 Director Jonelle Patton says since the pandemic, staffing has been a challenge

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The “Help Wanted” sign is out for 911 operators in Lexington. Like other public safety departments, such as the Lexington-Fayette County Detention Center, the emergency call center is short-staffed, which puts extra stress on employees already working in what can be a very stressful job.

Before a first responder gets to you, these emergency dispatchers are on the other end of your 911 call working hard to connect you to the right people who can help.

“If it’s not for the telecommunicators in this room–this is where it all starts. We get that information first and we get that out to the appropriate responders in the field,” said Lexington E911 Director Jonelle Patton.

Since the pandemic, fully staffing E911 has been a challenge. Patton says the center, fully staffed, takes 76 people, but that 25 positions are open right now.

According to Patton, these job start out at just over $18 an hour, but if you’ve got experience, they can pay more than $21 an hour.

“We are just trying to get the word out that hey, E911 is a great place to work. It’s not your ordinary desk job and we’re just looking for some great people who want to give back to their community,” said Patton.

She says these “responders before the responders” take as many as 5,000 calls a day, and even with the center’s understaffing, most calls are taken within 20 seconds.

“We have dedicated people. But yes, it can be difficult at times. And not only with the shortages, but just in the cell phone era itself. Everybody wants to be the first to report an incident,” said Patton.

Council Member At-Large Richard Moloney says Lexington E911 isn’t the only Public Safety department facing a staffing shortage. The council member says he’s working with the City of Lexington’s administration to help get the word out about the job opportunities available in Lexington, both to the area and in the surrounding counties.

“This is a career opportunity, you can stay here and see other jobs come open,” said Moloney.

To apply or inquire about a position at E911, go to lexingtonky.gov or call (859) 280-8200.

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